Sunrise, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The winningest goaltender in Florida Panthers history is heading back to his former team.
The fading Vancouver Canucks kicked off a potential fire sale at the NHL trade deadline by dealing Roberto Luongo to the Panthers, where the three-time All- Star spent five of his 14 seasons from 2000-06.
In exchange for Luongo, whose 108 victories and 317 games played are the most ever by a Florida netminder, the Canucks will receive young goalie Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthias, with Vancouver also sending forward prospect Steven Anthony to the Panthers. The Canucks are also expected to cover a portion of Luongo's remaining contract as part of the swap.
Luongo, who backstopped Vancouver within a game of winning the Stanley Cup in 2010-11, has been solid in an otherwise disappointing season for the Canucks. In 42 games, the 34-year-old has posted a 19-16-6 record with a 2.38 goals- against average and .917 save percentage along with three shutouts.
"Roberto is one of the game's elite goaltenders and we are happy to welcome him back to South Florida," said Panthers general manager Dale Tallon. "With this acquisition, we have solidified our goaltending depth with a top-tiered netminder for the next several seasons."
The fourth overall selection by the New York Islanders in the 1997 NHL Draft, Luongo was traded to the Panthers in June of 2000 and established himself as the team's No. 1 goaltender shortly afterward. He finished third in voting for the Vezina Trophy in 2003-04, recording a 2.43 GAA and seven shutouts that season.
A contract dispute led to Florida trading Luongo to the Canucks following the 2005-06 season, with Vancouver signing him to a four-year deal shortly after the move. He went 47-22-6 with a 2.29 GAA and five shutouts in his first season with the club and finished runner-up for the Vezina.
Luongo led the league with 38 wins during the Canucks' march to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and served as the starting goaltender for the gold medal- winning Canadian squad in the Vancouver Olympics the previous year. However, he requested a trade last season after losing playing time in favor of Cory Schneider, though the Canucks ultimately dealt Schneider to the New Jersey Devils last summer.
Luongo agreed to waive his no-trade clause to return to Florida, where he'll be a teammate of fellow veteran Tim Thomas, whose Boston Bruins edged the Canucks in the 2011 Finals.
Vancouver has emerged as a prime seller at the deadline after dropping nine of its last 10 games to fall to 10th place in the Western Conference. The team has also been rumored to have put standout center Ryan Kesler on the trading block.
The 24-year-old Markstrom, a second-round pick of Florida in 2008, could be viewed as Vancouver's long-term answer between the pipes, though he's struggled during his short time at the NHL level. The native Swede had a 3.52 GAA in 12 games this season and has gone 11-25-5 with a 3.21 GAA in 43 career outings.
Matthias had spent his entire seven-year career in Florida and notched a personal-best 14 goals last season. The 26-year-old has registered nine goals and seven assists in 59 games thus far in 2013-14.
Anthony, 22, was a seventh-round choice of Vancouver in 2009 and is currently playing for St. Charles of the Central Hockey League.